This year on Ash Wednesday, my wife, Mary, and I not only had ashes, from church, placed on our foreheads; we also went to a medical clinic and had the second doses of Moderna Covid vaccine injected in our arms.
A memorable and consequential Ash Wednesday, indeed.
Why did I get Covid shots? First and foremost, I was just thinking of me. I want to live (lots of work that I want to do), and I have spent the entire last year fearing that I might die of this virus. Second, since I am the one who goes out in the world and does the shopping, I didn’t want to bring the virus home to Mary. (Perhaps my logic is flawed on this note, but it is what I thought.) Third, I figured that if we both got our shots, we had a good chance of continuing our 60-year-old marriage.
Vaccines! I had my first one when I was little, a smallpox vaccine. Smallpox had been the “most deadly scourge of the human species” beginning in the 6th century and ending in the 20th century – for 14 centuries it hung around. But eventually, a global vaccination campaign made its way to me in West Virginia. I am truly grateful.
Because such vaccines didn’t exist then for measles, mumps and other diseases, I got measles, mumps and other diseases. At that time, vaccines for polio didn’t exist, so some of my friends suffered both greatly and permanently while a few lost their lives at an early age. Later on, I was so glad that our children could have polio vaccines.
Now here we are with a deadly virus that covers the face of the Earth.
In every village and metropolis, the whole has suffered, is suffering, and will continue to suffer from COVID-19. This is war. At the beginning we would say, “We are all in this together” as the casualties mounted. Now . . . there are vaccines that have the capacity to end the war if “we are all in this together.” And if we get vaccinated!
URI’s purpose states publicly that we intend to create “cultures of . . . healing for the Earth and all living beings.” Yes, I understand that there are conscientious objectors in wartime and in vaccine time. But for me, “healing the Earth” at this grave time of catastrophe, a time when effective vaccines are appearing, requires enough human beings to cooperate in order to end this modern plague. So much better than waiting 14 centuries to figure it out! Healing can come soon, now.
That is why I was vaccinated on Ash Wednesday.